Published: Wed, October 10, 2018
Technology | By Nina Perez

Facebook’s Newest Gadget After Data Breaches Takes Video Inside the Home

Facebook’s Newest Gadget After Data Breaches Takes Video Inside the Home

"Facebook's like ... look at this cool new gadget that eavesdrops on you and does creepy stuff with the info it collects, '" tweeted Ido Kolovaty, a professor at the University of Tulsa College of Law. Featuring a 10-inch 1280 x 800 display, Portal from Facebook improves video calling hands and distraction free.

And Facebook seems to be putting privacy front and center for the Portal series, offering users additional features to protect their data. But the devices also come with built-in support for Amazon's Alexa, so you can talk to the Portal as you might the Echo Show.

Of course, we all know the main detractor from buying either of these devices - Facebook's shaky to downright-inexcusable history with users' data privacy.

In addition to their price and size differences, the Portal+ has a more powerful speaker that includes two tweeters with high-range frequency and a single, four-inch bass speaker for richer sound.

The new video call devices are powered by AI, with Facebook's "Smart Camera" technology created to follow you as you move around the room and zoom in to the action, meaning you can continue chatting over video while doing chores, cooking in the kitchen, or looking for something in your room.

In a Monday blog post, Facebook noted that it " doesn't listen to, view, or keep the contents of your Portal video calls".

The camera can be blocked by a cover and the device has a button for disabling both the lens and the microphone.

The Portal's video chats are encrypted and not recorded, Facebook says, so the company can't hear or see what you're talking about or who is in the room.

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Both models also include an internet-connected speaker that features Amazon's voice-activated digital assistant, Alexa.

The social network does not intend to stop with Portal, promising to "invest very heavily, not just hardware through Oculus but also through Facebook", Bosworth said. This means the ability to do voice or video calls over Facebook Messenger and Facebook Watch integration. If you need something bigger, there's the 15-inch 1920 x 1080 Portal+ for $349, complete with auto-pivoting screen. Portal itself will be fitted out to use augmented reality effects that have become popular on Facebook Messenger. Facebook is one of the most untrusted companies when it comes to protecting or even being ethical with its user's data (it practically pioneered the quote "if you're not paying for it, you're the product").

Both speakers feature large displays and cameras to facilitate video calling and other communication functionality.

The smaller Portal is an Amazon Echo Show style device, which is basically a giant display with a speaker.

To start the call, all it takes is: "Hey Portal". But even Facebook acknowledges there are privacy concerns. The data affair uncovered problems with how Facebook allows third parties to access data it's gathered on its 2.2 billion monthly users.

The Portal Plus device can also swivel into vertical orientation, similar to how people are used to viewing and video-calling through their phones.

There are only a handful of third-party partners, so far, including Spotify, Pandora, iHeartRadio, Newsy, Food Network and Amazon Alexa. The device features a camera that uses artificial intelligence to automatically zoom as people move around during calls.

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